Thursday, September 12, 2013

"Putin: Rhymes With Rasputin"

Flashback on the world stage to the moment when Vladimir Putin first appeared to us and William Safire memorably quipped: "Putin: Rhymes with Rasputin."

Put your way back machine on to 2000 and reread Safire's NYT article; it's well worth it -- from a time when I still read that paper religiously. I picked out a few excerpts:
Acting President Putin (pronounced POO-teen, rhymes with Ras-POO-teen) rocketed to popularity on Russian jubilation about the massacre of dark-skinned Chechens who dare to demand independence. He needed a snap election before the blood lust cooled and Russian body bags began returning home.
Was Safire pro-Chechen or just sympathetic? The question is clouded by the Brother’s Tsarnaev who were Chechens; remember what they did here: atrocities to bring attention to…? Well, not exactly to bring attention to al-Qaeda...but what then?
It is the Chechens who seek to liberate themselves from Russian rule. The Russian militarists are the ones raining bombs and shells on people who want the same independence as Georgians and Ukrainians. For Clinton to characterize the rape of Grozny as ''liberation'' is an abomination.
Al-Qaeda you will recall, first appeared on our radar in Afghanistan. But they did fight the Russians (Soviets) before us. It's all so confusing. And Bill Clinton, siding with Putin's take on Chechnya? What will Hillary say and do?
Their task, after last week's coup de main, is to present Putin (means ''born on the road'') to the electorate as a man on horseback out to crush the terrorists trying to tear Mother Russia asunder. 
I would have never guessed that. Safire was very good at etymology; I didn't know he covered Russian etymology too.
Putin is in a race with disillusionment -- that moment when Russians realize that the Chechens won't be beaten without heavy losses, that the flight of capital will continue under Chubais-Berezovsky, and that military spending robs Russia of its ability to compete.
Can I recast that?:

Obama is in a race with disillusionment -- that moment when Americans realize that al-Qaeda  won't be beaten without heavy losses, that the flight of capital will continue under Cloward-Piven, and that military spending robs America of its ability to compete.

It's a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world.

1 comment:

  1. The Russians did a forced relocation of all Chechens in Dagistan, for example. The place is now calm and is rebuilding with businesses that produce primarily for the domestic Russian market. When the Chechens were present, those sorts of businesses weren't possible. So to some extent, that's how Russia (and Putin) have dealt with some of the areas that were occupied by Muslims inside Russia. While effective, you can't get away with doing that in other places (Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc).